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Dave B

US High School/College Class rings..do you still wear yours?

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On one side of the ring, we have the Class crest (IMG 4099). Each class selects a committee to design the class crest. (I was on our committee, perhaps my only mark of distinction during my time there.) Our crest consists of a radar PPI, with a Terrier Surface to Air Missile and a helium atom superimposed. This was to mark the entry of the Navy into both the missile age and the atomic age. (How quaint it all sounds now.) During our final year at the Academy, we wear the ring with the Class crest inboard, so that we may be constantly reminded of our loyalty to the Class.

Edited by Hugh

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On the other side of the ring (IMG 4098), we have the Academy crest: a full frontal view of a galleon, with the motto - Ex scienta tridens (out of knowledge, seapower) atop an open book, with torches of knowledge on either side. After graduation, we leave the Academy to enter the Fleet, and we wear the ring with the Academy crest inboard, so that we may be constantly reminded of our loyalty to the Navy and the Academy.

Edited by Hugh

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The top of the ring (IMG 4100) is typically a stone of the owner's choosing, but commonly a blue spinel. That was my choice for my first ring (More about that later.) Owners often choose to have a gold leaf initial from their last name put into the stone. Others choose a gold plug, often with an initial. The stone or plug is surrounded by the legend “United States Naval Academy” and by links of an anchor chain equal to the year of your class. (The chain thing only works in the mid years of a century, when the number is manageable. Don’t know what the Class of ’01 did.)

Edited by Hugh

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I have worn my ring every day since I got it until I lost it in Viet Nam under circumstances I’d rather not discuss. My understanding wife bought me a replacement for Christmas 1976. It features a gold plug with my family crest (MacKenzie). It has taken a lot of beating over the years since, which I think has improved the looks. The edges were a bit sharp in the early days.

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In the '50's and '60's, our Naval Academy rings grew ever larger, with huge domes to hold the stones. To add to the picture, cabuchon-sut star rubies and star sapphires were popular stones, adding a grotesque growth on the top. The star rubies looked to me just like a piece of well-chewed bubble gum, an opinion which did not endear me to some of my classmates.

Edited by Hugh

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Another feature of the Naval Academy and West Point ring culture - many of my classmates bought a miniature of their rings to use as engagement rings for their future brides. In an era when both marriages and military careers had more permanence, it was a nice way to show the commitment of the couple to service. Don't know if the practice survives, but would love to hear. What other schools did the same thing?

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We also used the gold class crest as a standalone piece of jewelry, similar to the way civilian schools used fraternity pins. When you were starting to get serious with the One and Only, you'd give her a crest and you were pinned, presumably leading eventually to engagement and marriage. Some of my classmates had slightly different ideas about the permanence of such an arrangement, and I know a few who bought multiple crests to give to a series of girls.

One winter weekend, I had invited the daughter of one of my father's business associates to visit, and my parents were down at the same time. Ellen, a darling girl with whom I've lost contact many years ago, was from Florida, and didn't have any winter clothes, so my mother lent her her overcoat, on which I had earlier pinned my class crest. When Ellen returned to the boarding house, the other girls all went into oohing and ahing, asking her about getting pinned. Ellen didn't know what they were talking about until they explained it. I'll never know if she would have liked to get it on her own, but it was a good laugh.

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This is not my ring, but this is my Class Ring, which looks exactly as this, but a little bit more worn. It is 10 K Gold. They used to come in 14 K in the past.

Hugh,

That is a neat tradition. We get our rings at Parent's day weekend. Then we have a Dance called the RING HOP. Every Company normally invites a member of the Cadre back from the Senior Graduating Class, when we were Knobs (Freshmen). We invited our Cadre Platoon Leader. We wear our rings on the left finger (married to the Corps) with the '03 facing towards us. When we graduate, we face the '03 facing out. Our Ring design hasn't changed since 1918 (minus the year changes).

Overall, I think all US Service Academies and Sr Military Collegeis have great traditions. I think that this is a great forum to share everything.

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My brother started out at The Citadel (Class of '59), but left after a couple of years. He was a football player, but blew his knee the first year. Thence to the Pipe Band, and graduated from Wofford.

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Here is my High School Class Ring, I took shots of a few angles with my ring sitting on my quilting ruler so you can get an idea of it's size. I wanted the school crest, but the ring was too small to fit it and the smallest style that fit the school crest was too large for my small hands. My ring is a size 4.75.

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Balfour stamp & 10k. Part of the Balfour signature is missing from when I injured my hand by getting stuck in a leaf blower engine and my finger swelled around my ring. The jeweler in town sure loved fixing all the rings I wrecked. lol

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And a picture of my class ring on my hand to get an idea of how big the ring is on my midget hands.

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Graduates of our Naval and Military Academies are often known as ringknockers. It's sometimes mildly pejorative, as, "Is he a ringknocker, or did he go to a real college?" The name comes from the habit of First Classmen smacking the palms of their hands against the glass of the hapless plebe's door to smash it open. The ring hits first, resulting in a resounding and chill-inspiring shudder through the plebe's spine as he braces himself for an ordeal of running by the upperclassman. It's another memory which hasn't faded after fifty years. Some young officers carry the habit into the Fleet, which doesn't endear them to anyone.

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Thank you guys for posting on this most interesting and informative thread! I knew absolutely nothing about class rings before but now it makes me wish we had this tradition over here in the UK, no such luck I'm afraid though.

Mervyn: yes I think I might expand the topic to world rings sometime in the future as I would be interested to see what other rings hold significance to people.

Thanks to everyone that has posted photos of their rings, every one is stunning and I'm looking forward to seeing plenty more.

Keep 'em coming!

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Per article listed below (paraphrased):

http://digital-libra...phs/classrings/

The tradition of class rings at American colleges and universities is believed to have originated at West Point (foundation 1802) with the class of 1835. The class of 1836 adopted no ring but each subsequent class has done so.

By 1917, it become customary to place a class crest on one side of the ring and the Academy crest on the other all class rings became uniform except for the type of gold and stone.

The library at USMA displays an example of each class ring – all belonging to deceased graduates. While not all classes are represented in the display, 170 rings are displayed.

My experiences/observations:

Many more rings have been donated than can reasonable and meaningfully displayed. Beginning in 2002, rings have been melted with the permission of the donors and added to an ingot containing the gold from all others melted. Then a portion of the ingot is used in the formation of all rings being made for the graduating class symbolizing the linkage within the "Long Gray Line".

Each class elects a "ring & crest" committee that designs the official class crest. This crest makes up one side of the ring and the Academy crest the other. Surrounding the inlaid stone is the inscription WEST POINT and the class year.

The rings are presented shortly after the beginning of classes for the First Class (Senior) AKA Firstie year. Great significance was attached to this event and it was marked by one of the biggest social events of the year – the "Ring Hop" – tradition dies slowly and painfully at West Point hence the term "Hop". I am told it was a wonderful event… my wife (fiancée at the time regularly reminds me of this as we missed it due to a major rule infraction on my part resulting in "walking the area" in lieu of dancing.

I have a striking memory of the then Major Norman Schwarzkopf admiring each of our brand new rings at the beginning of class following the presentation. He welled with emotion and entreated us never to remove our rings. Of course, shortly thereafter he was merrily dancing on our heads for our academic shortcomings during the class. Alas – emotion will only carry one so far…

If the current ring knockers still attach as much or the same type of meaning to their rings – I can not say. For me and my classmates – it is a cherished momento of a challenging period of life faced alongside a wonderful collection of friends. The bonds of class ran deep then and I hope they still do.

Edited by W McSwiggan

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Well here's "my" ring that I bought on a whim the other day that started my interest and this thread on class rings, not a military ring but a High School example. Class of 1982 and formerly belonging to a one Mike Caudle of Hereford High in Texas, the school's football team is evidently called the Whitefaces and it looks like Mike was proficient at the Tuba.

The ring is manufactured by Jonsil and made from "Platrium" which I believe is a nickel silver alloy?

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3 more class rings just in.

From left to right...

Carson High School class of 1981, maufactured by Jostens and made from "Lustrium".

Bethany Christian High School class of 1987, unknown maufacturer or material.

Sunny Slope High School class of 1989, manufactured by Gold Lance and made of "Trillium".

I believe all 3 are made from a jewellers grade stainless steel type metal and Lustrium, Trillium etc are just trademarks.

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Sorry for the thread resurrection but a friend of mine in the States has sent me an interesting military class ring. It's an Operation Desert Storm ring that's engraved inside R.C.-1067, do any of you US military guys and gals know what this means...unit designation??

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers

Dave

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I never got a high school ring. I had enough money to buy a ring or a letter jacket, so I opted for the jacket. I got a ring from the Air Force Academy after some convincing from my wife. I never really wore it, except for special occasions. One day I noticed my three year old was wearing it, it looked really cute and I thought "what can she do to it?". Well that is the last time I have seen it :) It is somewhere in the living room, kitchen, family room, or laundry. :)

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Yup. I still wear mine and have every day since 1980. I figure I earned it. Also, I can't get it off.

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Yup. I still wear mine and have every day since 1980. I figure I earned it. Also, I can't get it off.

Ahh yes indeed.... s'funny how rings, like trousers, seen to get smaller and smaller over time...... till you cant get the ring off, or the trousers on anymore... ;-)

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Dave - I always thought this was an interesting subject - and something that seem to be uniquely American.

I hope one of our Members will be able to throw some light on this example.

To our many other US Members - please post your Class Rings - they are not only interesting but, also have

historical value when details are included. Mervyn

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uniquely American.

Not necessarily! Twenty-something years ago graduates of technical gymnasium (roughly high school level, graduating at age twenty - normally!) in Sweden could obtain a 18K gold ring for wear on the left hand. As that particular branch of gymnasium was four years instead of the normal three, the extra year was the "ring-qualifying" year (though it wasn't mandatory as the final grades for applying to university was given at the "normal" end of gymnasium after the third year). I still wear mine with pride as its design is unique among those rings, normally the technical gymnasium rings are similar, but my school's design stands out from the rest.

/Jonas

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